Friday, April 25, 2014

Taking Talent and Passion to a Professional Level

Young people are inspiring. That is a fact. I see students from all walks of life, with all kinds of talents, and with the kind of energy that is enviable to most adults. Whether they are in pre-school or on the cusp of graduating from high school, they are full of curiosity, creativity, opinions, and questions. The key for educators, mentors, and family members, is to help our young people harness all of these characteristics to lead them to success. Unfortunately, in many schools, our kids are not given this opportunity.

For far too long, interests in art, writing, music, design, performance, gaming, and many similar pursuits have been labeled as alternative paths in life. Sure, most people enjoy seeing students involved in these categories and funding has even been provided for many of these areas. However, the problem with this stance is it gives students the impression that these interests are not worthy of pursuing in terms of post secondary education or as careers. Let's face it, when people hear that a student is going to art school or interested in design, most family members frown on the notion. We have to break this mold and come to the understanding that these passions, are not only worth pursuing, but are incredibly advantageous to our student's futures as professionals.

The United States is the land of innovation. Our future relies on our ability to be adaptable, creative, collaborative, and driven to overcome obstacles and challenges that face us. So, why would we discourage our students from pursuing their passions.? Instead, we should teach them to harness these creative talents and passions to become professionals.

I was inspired yet again last night as I sat through scholarship interviews at our school. We have worked hard to foster creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking at our school through our project based learning environment. We have used our one to one laptop and iPad format to teach students how to become professionals. As I sat and observed students who have designed their own websites, worked with professionals on meaningful projects, and used their talents to become professionals themselves, I realized that our mission has not been in vain.

I have been inspired by our students in the fact that they have leveraged their creative talents to shatter old norms. Rather than just being a talented art student, the students I observed used their art to create logos for business, digital posters for community events, websites to benefit non-profit organizations, videos to educate the public on meaningful causes and much more. In essence, our students have become professionals without even knowing it. Our students have become well rounded citizens who rather than being convinced that their interests were futile, have harnessed the power of their passions to set themselves up for success. In other words, whether they become teachers, doctors, contractors, social workers, or business owners, they will know that passion, drive, ambition, and creativity will make them successful no matter what.

Our school is not perfect and not all students fully capture this magic, but it is happening at a higher level and more frequently than ever. This is what we should pursue with our students. This is why our job is so important. Our young people are looking to us to guide them. Successful people find their passion and their talents and make a life out of them. If we give our students the technological skills, learning skills, and life skills that are relevant to their generation, their pursuits will shine through. We need to take their talent and passion and turn it into professionalism long before they leave our schools. Leading is Teaching.

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